Staking Bales: Big Weeks on the Horizon

Staking Bales: Big Weeks on the Horizon

By Jonathan Bales (Daily Fantasy Expert), last update Dec 17, 2013

Jonathan Bales's picture

Jonathan Bales is a DraftKings Pro and the author of the Fantasy Football for Smart People book series. His latest book, How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports, is a data-driven guide to winning on DraftKings. He is also (unofficially) sponsored by GrubHub.

Follow Jonathan Bales on Twitter: @BalesFootball.

One of the reasons that I advocate a relatively conservative approach to daily fantasy is that it’s important to stay in the game. If you’re plunking down 50 percent of your bankroll each week, it doesn’t matter if you’re the top player in the world; you’re going to go broke.

I think it’s important to take shots if you have a relatively small bankroll, but only after you know you’re a long-term winner. The way to determine if you can make money over the long run is to rack up a large number of games over a relatively long period of time. Even an entire NFL season isn’t a sufficient sample size to conclude that you’re a long-term winner, whether you were profitable over that time or not.

To give you an idea of how volatile daily fantasy football in particular can be at times, consider that I’ve had a lot of heads-up success (but little tournament success) in this “Staking Bales” series—one for which I use daily fantasy accounts—but I’ve had less heads-up success and a whole lot of tournament wins personally, even though I use the same group of core players.

Think about that. I use the same group of players, but I’ve killed in tournaments personally and lost on tournaments for 4for4, due solely to the variance in selecting particular lineups. I’ve explained in the past that I think lineup combinations are kind of overrated; you want to have strategic pairings based on your game type, of course, but what matters most is your total exposure to certain players. I’ve had exposure to the right players this year because, overall, I’ve been profitable.

This is how I’ve done on the entire year:



 Money Wagered

  Money Returned






























I even had a good week of DraftKings tournament play for the staking series.

Even with this sort of volume, though, I don’t think there’s enough data to conclude from this season alone that I’m a long-term winner. I think I am, but I don’t think I could know that for sure from the games I played in 2013 alone.

As a disclaimer, note that $2,300 of my $5,784.62 profit is in the form of qualifying tickets to the DraftKings Millionaire Championship and FanDuel King of the Gridiron. Both of those tournaments take place next week, with grand prizes of $1 million and $150,000, respectively. So what I’m saying is that there’s a good chance my profit after Week 16 will be $1,155,784.62. Or maybe a slightly better chance that I don’t make anything at all. Insignificant difference.

This week, I’m going to work hard on DraftKings and FanDuel values and lineups (posting much of the research at 4for4) because there’s a lot of money on the line there. I also have a couple DraftKings qualifying tickets that I’m going to use in Week 17, along with a roughly a 1-in-40 chance at winning a Playboy Super Bowl party.

That Super Bowl opportunity is part of StarStreet Elite—a group of 40 of daily fantasy’s top players in a league in which I somehow got roped in. You probably recognize a lot of the names: condia, MrTuttle05, AveryBradley, BirdWings, stlcardinalsfan84, AlSmizzle, db730, Mike5754, Primetime420, headchopper, naapstermaan, shanksalot, TommyG1979, and the list goes on.

Each week, we compete for $4,000 with a $109 entry, and the top six places cash. I’ve finished seventh THREE TIMES, but I also have first place ($1,500) and second place ($1,000) finishes. Having played 15 weeks, I’ve profited $865 there thus far. I’m currently ranked 13th out of 40 in that league, which is likely due heavily to randomness since these are legitimately the best players in the world.

In Week 17, we go up against one another for a Super Bowl package that includes two flights to NYC (or a cab ride for me), two tickets to the Super Bowl, and two tickets to the Playboy Super Bowl party. The number of entries you get in Week 17 depends on how you finish the season. Right now, it’s looking like I’ll have three of the 111 possible lineups. That’s 2.7 percent, which is just slightly better than the average of 2.5 percent.

So what I’m saying is that if I’m not a millionaire partying at the Super Bowl come February, I’d be in complete and utter shock.

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